My favorite parts of the movie, Call Me by Your Name
This is INSANELY long (so obviously an insane amount of spoilers), jumbled, and in order of when I thought of each item (except for the Montaigne stuff) As long as this post is, there are tons of other moments that stick out, but one has to make choices! I tried to keep comparison to the book at a minimum as one can judge adaptations on their adherence/truthfulness to the source material or completely as its own thing (both are valid), and it’s easier to do the latter in this case. I’ve also kept it mostly positive, though as I’ve mentioned previously, I did have a few issues with the film (feel free to ask any questions you might have about that or anything else CMBYN related). Also, I need to see it again. As soon as possible.
*When Elio has the nosebleed (no footsie though ugh), he goes inside and sits on the floor and Oliver comes looking for him. The way Elio asks Oliver to sit with him breaks my heart. Just a subtle hint of plea. Everything that happens during that sit-down also fucked my life. It’s burned into my very being. Every look, kiss, touch, word.
* There’s this wonderful housefly that, throughout the movie, shows up occasionally to hang out with Elio when he’s thinking about Oliver. I could probably write a paper on what I think the significance of the fly is, and my feelings about the fly, but really, it was just a fly- a nice touch by either Luca or Ivory.
* The desperation in Elio’s kiss after he breaks down crying during the peach scene. How is Timothée not actually feeling that at that moment? Talk about acting. It was spectacular. Everything about his reaction was spectacular. The crying, the sad embarrassment for crying, the clutching at Oliver. (Aside:Oliver not eating the peach was unacceptable and Elio’s reaction being switched from being overwhelmed that someone felt something for him so strongly that they would do such a thing to being upset that Oliver is leaving soon was annoying.)
* The hilarious lunch conversation with the extremely talkative, not very polite, guests. This conversation needs to be witnessed and experienced, because it’s so funny. At some point they start insulting each other- someone gets called an “asshole” I think, but the expressions and tones of voice of everyone involved stay exactly the same, so it’s hard to even tell who’s being called an asshole, etc. Like this is just everyday conversation.
* After Elio says goodbye to Oliver at the train station, he sits around for a bit trying to process and calm down and then, because what else to do in this lovely family?, he calls his mom. As he asks her to come pick him up, he breaks down (I did, too). The shot is perfect. He’s in the phone booth and we’re outside and a bit away. He starts off the call facing us, but during the emotional bits, he turns his back. He’s hiding his crying from the world (including the viewer), but not from his mother, who can hear him losing it. This is a lovely private family moment, one of many that we’re privy to throughout the film.
* On Elio and Oliver’s trip, there’s a shot of Oliver’s face as Elio sleeps, looking completely at peace. Oliver is sitting on the bed, looking wrecked, and remorseful, and like he wants to stop what’s about to happen. The next scene is their goodbye hug at the train station. I wonder if Oliver sitting there that night knows that very soon he’s going to break Elio’s heart. Not just by leaving, but in telling him that he’s getting married (Over the phone? Really Oliver?) I’ve never been totally sure just how “on and off” Oliver and his future wife actually were. We never really get to know much about Oliver. In both the book and the movie, he’s more a mirror of Elio than a separate character. We only know him through and via Elio. So, in that way, is Oliver’s “on and off” relationship the same as Elio’s “on and off” relationship with Marzia? Where they hang out and fuck, but Elio holds back everything important? I don’t know.
* On the phone call when Oliver tells Elio he’s getting married, Oliver asks, “Do you mind?” A perfect, though strange, bit from the book to carry over- those are the words someone uses when asking permission to do something. What if Elio had said yes? Was Oliver seeking an admission that Elio loved him and wanted to be with him? Was he looking for an ego boost? Was he just asking an awkward question? Oliver is such a mystery to me.
*Anytime Armie/Oliver danced, I laughed. Man, that was some awful, but adorable dancing. The only time I didn’t laugh was when Elio got up on the dance floor and danced with Marzia right next to where Oliver was dancing. That time, I held my breath.
*The morning after they have sex (make love?) for the first time and Elio goes after Oliver into town. They walk a bit to have some privacy and while walking, for a few seconds they “hold hands” with just a finger or two tangled. So insanely lovely.
*After Oliver and Elio talk about how open Oliver is about showing his Judaism by wearing his Star of David, the next image is of Elio coming up for air while swimming in the lake, his Star of David around his neck. It’s a rebirth via water being symbolized, so a baptism of sorts. Oliver, simply by being Oliver, allowed so many hidden parts of Elio, parts Elio felt ashamed of, to be reborn into things that were not shameful, that were beautiful, things to be celebrated and nurtured.
*After Elio receives the note that they’ll meet at midnight and subsequently becomes seriously obsessed with his watch, they’re sitting outside, Oliver, Elio, and Elio’s mother. Elio gets up to leave the table and Oliver, so nonchalantly, asks Elio for the time. It’s such a sexy and funny way of Oliver reminding Elio what’s going to happen that night. And ratcheting up their respective anticipation.
*Sufjan. Sufjan. Sufjan. I can’t even.
*The way Elio says Oliver’s name. So often he says it as if he’s asking for everything he’s ever desired. There’s so much longing and affection.
*The sight and the sound of Oliver eagerly removing his belt the first night that he and Elio sleep together is super sexy. He’s kneeling over Elio, who’s lying between Oliver’s legs and they both look desperate. The sound and look of the leather as it’s being pulled quickly through Oliver’s belt loops is the perfect symbol for that desperation.
*It was completely genius, whoever’s decision it was, to have Elio constantly pressing himself against Oliver, whether it’s Elio’s head against Oliver’s chest or Elio’s whole body as he’s, literally, climbing Oliver, jumping into his arms, pulling Oliver against him as Elio leans back against a wall, etc. It’s like Elio is trying to absorb Oliver into himself. Like he can’t possibly ever get close enough. Like he wants to crawl inside Oliver and make himself a little home in his tummy or in his chest, by his heart- maybe take a nap surrounded by Oliver. Like he simply cannot get enough of this man.
*Elio’s hairstyle at the end of the movie & every single time Elio did his slide dance move. What glory was that?
*That one lovely shot of snow before the last scene. Foreshadowing the cooling off of Elio and Oliver’s relationship, and letting the viewer know that their summer, which was, vicariously, ours, is officially over. Also, snow is just beautiful.
*The night that Elio confesses his feelings to Oliver, Oliver comes back late. Elio, thinking that Oliver has been out with someone else, is restless in bed, and mutters, “Traitor,” as Oliver uses their adjoining bathroom. Then when Oliver closes the bathroom door without acknowledging Elio, Elio rolls over again says, sadly, “Traitor.” The word enlarges Elio’s desire- makes it so much more than just lust. He’s saying that they have something important together, something that can be betrayed. The fact that he doesn’t consider his actions with Marzia to be traitorous makes perfect sense to me. He knows his own feelings, that Oliver is, for whatever reason, infinitely more important to him than Marzia. But what Oliver feels is, at that time a mystery.
*Elio tells Oliver that they have to sit in the backseat of the car because Anchise usually drives as Elio’s father navigates. Then Elio’s father comes along and tells Anchise that he doesn’t need to drive and then invites Oliver into the front seat to be navigator. Elio is adorably upset that he doesn’t get to ride shotgun (understandably!). But also probably a bit unpleased that he doesn’t get to share that small backseat with Oliver. Ha.
*This part right here, when Elio asks for a truce and Oliver offers the hand of the statue. It should have been funny, but it was actually just very sweet and hurt my heart a bit.
*As Oliver and Elio leave on their trip, Chiara rides up on her bicycle. She’s late, though, and they’re already on the bus which is pulling away. The borderline sarcastic wave that Oliver gives her is pretty funny and Elio’s mother inviting Chiara to dinner with a thrown in, “Bring Marzia with you” is just ouch. But the look on Elio’s face as Oliver sits beside him, like this is everything. He’s sitting here with Oliver, going away with Oliver (!!!) and he seems so joyful, but also overwhelmed by that joy, and like he’s seconds away from crying. Lovely lovely acting by Tim.
* Elio’s father is pretty much perfect at fathering fatherly. And Michael Stuhlbarg is magnificent in this film. His final speech to Elio about Oliver, and love, and life is spectacular, both in the book and the film. The line that always makes me cry, whether reading, listening, or watching is:
We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new.
I’ve had one of those lives where this would have really been nice to hear when I was younger. But since I kind of want to rip out every memory I have of this book/movie, to cure myself of too many feelings, it might not have mattered.
* Also in Elio’s father speech is my favorite quote about love. I was ecstatic that it was in the book so having it in the movie made me doubly ecstatic. The quote, by Montaigne about his platonic male friend, is untranslated in the book (& I don’t know if anyone bothers to look that stuff up), while in the movie, there are subtitles (the translation in the movie is different than my preferred which is below, but whatevs). Below is a larger portion of the quote, the part in bold is the bit in the book/movie:
Si on me presse, continue-t-il, de dire pourquoi je l'aimais, je sens que cela ne se peut exprimer qu'en répondant: parce que c'était lui; parce que c'était moi.
If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than it was because he was he, and because I was I.
From the book:
“You’re too smart not to know how rare, how special, what you two had was.”
“Oliver was Oliver,” I said, as if that summed things up.
“Parce que c’était lui, parce que c’était moi,” my father added, quoting Montaigne’s all-encompassing explanation for his friendship with Etienne de la Boétie.”
I can’t explain why I’ve loved particular people most in my life- we were just the kind of people who would love each other. We spoke to something in the other. I’ve always appreciated the joyful, but also, almost resigned (potentially tragic) quality of such an acknowledgement. “We were meant to love each other” alongside “I couldn’t have stopped it even if I’d tried.” It’s perfect for Elio and Oliver.